We think that healing this relationship with ourselves, with food – stopping the dieting, stopping overeating, ending restriction – we think it’s really complicated and that there must be some big step we just don’t know about because if we did, then we’d finally solve this thing once and for all.
Do you ever feel that way? Like, there’s just one more bit of information, some diet, exercise routine, some book, some workshop, somebody somewhere that’s just around the corner that has the answer you are looking for.
(Hard to hear) Newsflash: There’s nothing else to wait for. There’s no other teacher you need. No other info you must learn. No secrets knowledge being held from you.
If you’ve been going at this awhile – then, you have all the pieces you need to pull yourself out of this.
You have the ability to put each tool and everything you’ve ever learned about your struggle one into practice (you may or may not have support to do that – if that’s the case, we need to build that up).
Put it all together, apply, practice, share, keep no secrets, and you’re going to get better. Perfect? Fuck no, no one is. But less pained? Less frustrated? Less burdened? Less exhausted from trying to keep this thing going? YES.
So what’s the problem? If we are honestly doing the work, then why do we still struggle so much? There are two simple reasons I can think of:
The first one is because we haven’t let go of our desire to have this problem. This problem keeps us from really “blowing” up. There is something appealing about it – on some level. We believe that if we really do give up all our “controls” – the things we use to keep us running on this hamsterwheel, if we stop counting calories, if we really do allow ourselves to eat as much as we want, as much as our body requires, then we’re going to weigh 400 lbs. If we stop telling ourselves how ugly and unlovable our bodies are, then they’re only going to get even more unlovable. Even if intellectually we know all the things we need to do and we do them 80% of the time – we hold on so tightly to our old familiar and comforting problem because we aren’t totally convinced that it’s a problem.
There’s a teeny tiny part of us, who doesn’t want to admit to anyone – and would certainly never say it out loud – that she really doesn’t want to stop dieting. Dieting is a safety net. And we think we can get better by having our cake and eating it too. We want to be able to eat mindfully and diet. Over exercise to burn calories and listen to our bodies. We want to stuff our faces with all the foods that set off our binges and we want to stop eating when our bodies tell us we are full. We want it both ways.
We are stubborn little shits!
The second reason we’re struggling so much is that there’s a faction of us who doesn’t believe that this problem is solvable. We see magazine cover after cover with headlines of “How to lose 10 lbs in 10 days!” and “How to firm up that flab!” month after month. If weight problems were so simple to solve, wouldn’t magazines have run out of stories to run on it yet? We’re all still fighting the fight. Still looking for a solution. We’ve been told that most people gain weight back after losing. We hear how people in recovery from eating disorders must remain vigilant for life. We’ve heard the message loud and clear that this is a losing battle – so why really try? I’m not saying that healing from this stuff is easy (it’s not) but going into it believing that there is no way out, that you are destined to be “sick” or in pain and struggle forever is the surest way I know to be in pain forever.
So if you see yourself in either of these, how do you get out of it? How do you really stop it?
You have to want to get better more than you want to hold onto what is keeping you unwell (whether that’s the desire to have this problem or the belief that it is unsolvable).
The very thing you want to get rid of is the very thing you are clinging tightly to. You can’t move on from here if you don’t let go.
Believe that this problem isn’t helping you in any way.
Believe that it is solvable.
Believe that this doesn’t have to be a big issue in your life if you choose otherwise.
This part actually isn’t complicated. Please don’t look for the hard part (we’ve already been doing that all along!). Let go of your need to hold this problem so close to you. You will take a huge sigh of relief at the thought of not struggling with it anymore. You know those deep breathes you take after a really good cry? Those ones that feel like your lungs are breathing for the first time? It’s like that.
For me, I simply choose to not participate anymore.
I refuse to be complicit in torturing myself for a moment longer. Merriam-Webster defines “Complicit” as “helping to commit a crime or do wrong in some way”. That’s right – it is a crime. The way we treat ourselves (withholding or gorging on food, beating up our bodies with negative thoughts etc) is a crime and it’s certainly “doing wrong”. We don’t have to do it.
I’m not going to go along with it – with the craziness that bingeing and dieting over and over brings me – because i don’t have to. I don’t have to hold onto this shit like it’s some precious special part of me. It’s not. I am not special because I am not as heavy as I could be or because I am flawed in my eating history. My problems don’t make me unique and I don’t have to carry them as if they were my life’s work. I don’t have to believe that this is unfixable. Nothing good comes from that.
There is no positive side of still holding on to this part of myself. I don’t see any benefit to continuing it so I’m just going to stop. I don’t want to torture myself anymore. I don’t want to cause more struggle and pain. I see more benefit in relaxing about my “flaws”, relaxing about what I eat, relaxing in the standards I hold myself to.
I refuse to participate in the bullying of myself.
Are you here? Have you arrived at this place too? When you do, it really is as simple as just saying “I don’t want to do this to myself anymore.” We have to want to stop more than we want to continue.
I deserve more. I will feed my body the way it wants to be fed. I will care for it the way it wants to be cared for. I will not torture myself anymore.
We can uncomplicate it if we want to.
Let go. There’s no prize or reward to holding on to your pain or for believing you are unfixable or for wanting to struggle.
What would happen if you let go of it (it being your problem) for a week? for a month? for a year? forever? What would happen? Do you feel like it would be a catastrophe? Your life would completely fall apart? Would it fall apart briefly but you know you’d ultimately right yourself and be ok? If you recognize that all the important pieces of your life would still be intact if you let go of this – you’re ready. You can let this go. If you think you desire not struggling with this shit more than you want to keep this pain, you are ready. Set it free. Let it go.
Letting go of it doesn’t have to mean that you can’t have goals and don’t want to improve your fitness level or lose weight. Sometimes we think that not having a food issue anymore means giving up on how we look or feel about our bodies. It doesn’t have to mean that. You may find that those things are actually easier when you aren’t clinging so tightly to the preconceived notions and ideas that are keeping you stuck and miserable.
If what you believe and think was working, you’d be there by now, yes? But you’re not. You’re still struggling up and down with the same 10, 20 or 30 lbs and you still find it challenging to choose meals in a restaurant that you “want” vs. what you “should” have. This shit isn’t working for you, so why are you working so hard for it?? Don’t.
Again, this part is not that complicated. You can put it down.
Take a few minutes to think about how your life would be if you chose to let go of this struggle once and for all and instead chose to put caring for yourself far above weight or food stuff. Go to a quiet place with a pen and paper and answer the following questions about this problem (our need to diet, to overeat, to hold our bodies hostage). Feel free to answer in the comment below, on Facebook or even by shooting me an email (I will respond to you!). Are you ready to uncomplicate things?
I sincerely believe that one of the main routes out of our eating and body struggles is through self-reflection. Get to know yourself, how you feel, what you think, what is just under the surface! When it’s not a secret anymore, when we aren’t hiding from ourselves, it’s hard to not want to do better for ourselves. I’ve cycled up and down in all these places that I write about so many times and the only time I’ve felt like I wasn’t constantly grappling for stable ground was when I decided to put caring for myself first instead of letting my eating issues dictate my day. I know you can do the same.
One of the most helpful things in the world is sharing your struggle with another person. I invite you to schedule a free mini session with me to discuss your goals and challenges around dieting and body image. How can I be of support to you? Do you get my emails?